Alex Cora is thinking twice about visiting the White House
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Thursday he is reconsidering his decision to visit the White House next month out of concern for his native Puerto Rico.
“Right now I can say yes,” Cora said. “It might change tomorrow.”
In December, when the Red Sox accepted an invitation from the Trump administration, Cora said he would use the opportunity to represent Puerto Rico in a respectful fashion.
The Sox have since been scheduled to visit on Feb. 15. But Cora is conflicted about whether to attend, given conditions in Puerto Rico and the federal government’s willingness to render aid.
For the 43-year-old manager, whose prominence on the island has soared since the Red Sox won the World Series, it’s a question of which is the right path.
“In the offseason I was like ‘whoa.’ It’s different right now back home,” Cora said. “Not only for me but for my family. So we’ll see. We’ll see. I’ll represent them the right way. We’ll have to wait.”
On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that the White House attempted to block disaster-recovery funds for Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
It was widely reported last week that the White House discussed diverting federal funds meant to help Puerto Rico and other areas of the country struck by natural disasters to fund Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border. Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, and San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, condemned that idea.
“There’s a lot of stuff that is going on right now,” Cora said. “You read what’s going on back home. It’s not easy. I’m back home. I see everything that is going on.”
In Puerto Rico, whether Cora should visit the White House is a topic that far transcends baseball. To a lesser degree, the same is true for Puerto Rican catcher Christian Vazquez.
“If I go, I’ll represent Puerto Rico the right way,” Cora said. “I don’t know what kind of platform I’ll have if I go. It’s not that I’ve changed my mind, but we’ll see what happens in the upcoming days.”
A White House aide, who did not want to be identified, said Cora’s comments would not change plans for the event.
White House visits, once routine for championship teams, have become more controversial since Trump was elected. Several teams have skipped the trip and the Philadelphia Eagles had their invitation rescinded after winning the Super Bowl last year.
The Red Sox have made the visit optional for the players, and Cora’s decision could influence how some of them proceed.
Cora is mindful of how his actions are viewed by the public.
“I don’t use this too much, the minority thing,” he said. “Last year I was the first minority manager in this city. This is a great city. It has its history, you know?
“It’s not that I survived; I prevailed. We won. Sometimes if you walk the other way and you get your back to whatever is going on, is it positive? I don’t know. Sometimes you’ve got to show your face. It’s not that I’m going to go there and make a scene or whatever. Like I said, I’m very proud of where I’m from.”
Red Sox executives also are discussing whether it would be appropriate to visit if the government remains shut down.